If you look at the thousands of IPO photographs gracing Facebook, Pinterest, Intagram and other social media sites, they pretty much look alike, especially with respect to color. The style of photography is photo journalistic; that is, photographers capture the moment as it happened. This isn’t a surprise, given the nature of the sport and of where training and trials are held.
Although IPO fields look monochromatic on first glance, they really are not. They are plenty of colors all around. And, even if a variety of colors are lacking, such as in winter on a gray day, much can still be done with the tones and hues that are present. As noted in Part 1 of this series, color communicates an emotion or message in an instant. It also creates a mood, draws viewer attention to or away from a part(s) of the image, or adds an interesting highlight. In short, color is an important part of the story.
The following list of colors and meanings and feelings associated with them is adapted from Latrice Eiseman’s book Pantone® Guide to Communicating with Color. PANTONE® is recognized worldwide as a standard in color management among printers, artists, painters and designers. The Pantone Institute studies how color influences human thought processes, emotions and physical reactions. So, this seems like a great place to start!
RED: Seeing this color creates a physical response with the release the hormone epinephrine, which causes people to breathe faster, raises blood pressure, and increases the heart rate and perspiration. The human mind connects RED with excitement and high energy. Red literally turns people on. Latrice writes, “It has an aggressive nature, commanding attention and demanding action.”
PINK: “Vivid, shocking or hot pinks share the same high energy and spirit as mother red,” Latrice notes. Pink is associated with energy, youthfulness and creates “a feeling of movement and wild abandon.” Pink is fun, but it can be faddish.
ORANGE: This color is among the hottest of all colors. It brings up feelings of glowing and vitality. “In its most vivid intensities, it is perceived as a color that shouldn’t be taken too seriously; a dramatic exclamation point…It’s seen as playful, gregarious, happy and childlike…Orange contains some of the drama of red, tempered by the cheerful good humor of yellow.”
YELLOW: A color often seen on the IPO field from the sun, to blinds and the one-meter hurdle. It is “equated with splendor and heat of the sun…light and warmth.” It also is associated with imagination and enlightenment. As noted, yellow is cheerful and energetic. The human eye sees yellow before any other color. Good reason to use yellow for blinds and jumps as this color makes them stand out from the background. I’m not entirely sure the dog cares one way or the other, but for the handler and spectators, yellow pulls the eyes to these key elements on the IPO field.
BROWN: This color “is the ultimate earth color associated with hearth and home, substance and stability.” It also is associated with durability. Some view brown as dirt or dirty; not necessarily a positive response. In the IPO world, dirt and being dirty is a way of life, but for spectators or people not familiar with the sport, too much brown may be a negative. The key here is to bring out the connection with the earth – not a hard thing to do, since IPO is an outdoor sport.
BLUE: This color is a constant in our lives and “is strongly associated with sky and water…Blue is seen as reliable, trustworthily, dependable and committed. It inspires confidence.” Blue is also restful. “Humans are soothed and replenished when they view blue, and there is some evidence that when blue enters our line of vision, the brain sends out chemical signals that work as a tranquilizer.” Darker blue communicates power. Brilliant blues are dynamic and dramatic, a stark contrast, that can be used advantageously.
GREEN: This color in its many hues and tones “offers the widest array of choices.” Blue greens are thought of as cool and clean, but also can communicate warmth. Mostly, green is associated with nature, and communicates freshness. Deeper, richer greens are identified with money and prestige, safety and security.
PURPLE: A color with many meanings “from contemplative to regal…It is both sensual and spiritual.” Purple is not a color typically seen in the IPO world, although sunsets and sunrises are, and they can have purple shades. Consider, for example, a dog tracking early in the morning with a hint of purple in the sky or a silhouette of a dog working at sunset.
NEUTRALS: There are a lot of neutral colors, such as beiges, grays and taupe, in IPO. These colors are “seen as solid, enduring, timeless, and above all, classic.” They are safe and non-offensive.
WHITE: Most often, IPO photographers encounter white as blown out highlights (joke!). Seriously, this color “imparts purity and simplicity.” It is not a color seen very often in IPO, except on handlers who wear white on hot summer days. As it is a very difficult color to photograph, I encourage handlers to avoid wearing white.
BLACK: The most popular color in all of IPO! Many dogs are black or have a lot of black in their coats. Handlers love to wear black! Black “is associated with magical mysteries of the night.” It also communicates power, elegance, sophistication, expensive and dramatic. All good qualities of IPO dogs and handlers. Yet, it too, is difficult to photograph.
For more about these and other colors, I encourage you to look up Latrice’s book. It’s a quick, easy read. Part 3 of this series will look at IPO images and how color was used to highlight the action and to enhance the viewer’s experience. Until then, Happy Shooting!
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